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AWADmail Issue 464

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

The Rise of Logical Punctuation

Teaching Commas Won't Help
The Web of Language

From: Dick Easter (dick_xmas yahoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--three-ring circus
Def: A situation marked by confusing, amusing, or tumultuous activity.

Old joke:
Marriage is like a three-ring circus
First is the engagement ring.
Second is the wedding ring.
Third is the suffering!

Dick Easter, Boulder, Colorado, and happily married for 46 years!

From: Richard Stallman (rms gnu.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--three-ring circus

There was (or should have been) a travelling pair of exhibits about automata theory that was called the Turing Circus. (Two-ring, touring.)

Dr Richard Stallman, President, Free Software Foundation, Boston, Massachusetts

Email of the Week - (Brought to you by Comeuppance - Just Desserts in a Can.)

From: Mike Wagner (wagstr6 bellsouth.net)
Subject: three-ring circus

I wonder what would happen if there were a Chinese fire drill during a three-ring circus.

Mike Wagner, Miami, Florida

From: Carsten Kruse (c-kruse t-online.de)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--three-ring circus

Being a skydiver, the first two words triggered a skydiving-related term: three-ring system and I bet there are tens of thousands of other folks around the world who would pop up the same image. The correct term is "three-ring release system" but parrotshooters ;-) usually refer to it in the shorter way mentioned above.

Carsten Kruse, Gera, Germany

From: James Zimmerman (james.zimmerman bsci.com)
Subject: desultory
Def: 1. Marked by absence of a plan; disconnected; jumping from one thing to another. 2. Digressing from the main subject; random.

This word instantly reminded me of Paul Simon's A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara'd into Submission) -- a song [lyrics, video] that intrigued me because of its unusual title before I even heard the first note. As the definition implies, the song does indeed jump "from one thing to another". Thanks for the memory.

James Zimmerman, St. Paul, Minnesota

From: Gregg Bagni (bagme aol.com)
Subject: dog-and-pony show
Def: An elaborately staged presentation or briefing arranged for public relations, selling, etc. Also, a presentation that is overly contrived.

The inside buzz/synonym for dog-and-pony show is what I like to call "woof and whinny". Example: "We're going over to XYZ Corp to give em the woof-and-whinny show." It's simply a way to make something familiar new and have some fun with it.

Gregg Bagni, Lafayette, Colorado

From: Meredith Buch (meredithtn hotmail.com)
Subject: hey rube
Def: 1. A fight between members of a circus and the general public. 2. A call to rally circus members in a fight.

Apparently, some circuses are still rowdy affairs. Just last month, in Germany, two circus camps engaged in a hey rube with each other. It was likely a territory dispute and shots rang out before the police arrived. (link)

Meredith Buch, Schweinfurt, Germany

From: Stu Tarlowe (starlowe earthlink.net)
Subject: Hey Rube

I have a business card that lists me as a "Facial, cranial, and thoracic trauma solutions provider", for the firm of Donnybrook, Melee, Fracas, Heyrube &, Brannigan.

Stu Tarlowe, Rosedale, Kansas

From: Monica Kissane (mjkissane myfairpoint.net)
Subject: Hey Rube

Along similar lines is the phrase 'Hey Joe' used to attract the attention of American sailors (and other members of the US Armed Forces) by locals trying to sell them something.

In reverse, those same locals were called 'Hey Joes' by the sailors. As in, 'When we were on shore leave the streets were filled with 'Hey Joes' trying to sell us stuff. Assumption being the 'Joe' comes from 'G.I. Joe'.

Monica Kissane, Jericho, Vermont

From: David Mezzera (DaMezz comcast.net)
Subject: Jumbo
Def: noun: Something very large; adjective: Very large.

"Jumbo" is the mascot of Tufts University (Massachusetts). The elephant's tale dates back to 1885, when P.T. Barnum, the circus showman who was an early trustee and benefactor of Tufts, donated the stuffed hide of Jumbo to the university after he was killed by a train in Canada. The pachyderm was eventually put on display in the Barnum Museum of Natural History (now Barnum Hall) at Tufts. He was a big hit with the college's athletes, who adopted him as their mascot.

David Mezzera, Vallejo, California

From: Larry Huber (larry_huber comcast.net)
Subject: Jumbo

I was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania which is legend for its "Pittsburghese" including "jumbo" meaning "bologna". I didn't realize how documented it was until I discovered this entry in Wikipedia.

Larry Huber, Harleysville, Pennsylvania

From: Debby Rockwood (prockwood columbus.rr.com)
Subject: Circus theme this week

Regarding the circus theme this week, perhaps your readers would like this haunting poem, Washing The Elephant by Barbara Ras.

Debby Rockwood, Lancaster, Ohio

From: Penny Malburg (bannergirl3 msn.com)
Subject: Three-ring circus

I don't know about kids wanting to join the circus, but when my children were young and life would get stressful and overwhelming, I would tell them I was going to run away and join the circus. Of course, they would always want to go with me which totally defeated the whole plan!

Penny Malburg, Rio Rancho, New Mexico

From: Michelle Rotuno-Johnson (bltwithoutthebacon gmail.com)
Subject: My own circus experience

People often do a double-take when I tell them I work for a circus, but it's true! I'm a proud employee of the Cincinnati Circus Company, a group of professional entertainers whose skills range from juggling to stilt-walking to the flying trapeze. We don't have animals, three rings, or a big top...but we are proud of the work we do. And we strive to make kids from 1 to 100 happy every day.

Michelle Rotuno-Johnson, Delaware, Ohio

From: Dean Whitlock (boatman deanwhitlock.com)
Subject: Three-ring circus

My favorite circus has only one ring, and its performers are all youths from 10 to 18. It's Circus Smirkus, and it tours New England in July and August every summer, visiting 15 or so towns and giving over 70 performances. No animals, but a couple of dozen really talented young people. The greatest? Who can say? But I think it definitely rates a great! The name, by the way, was coined by the founder's mother. When he announced at age 18 that he was going to Europe to join a circus, she said "Circus schmirkus, get a real job!" He ran off anyway and turned it into a real calling.

Dean Whitlock, Thetford Center, Vermont

From: Clayton Bennett (cjbennett usinternet.com)
Subject: Circus

If you want to see circus in its best light, please look at Circus Juventas. A not-for-profit circus skills school for youth, Circus Juventas maintains a culture of respect and teamwork. My daughter, who is about the same age as yours, has attended for ten years. Her latest performance, triangle trapeze, is available here.

Clayton Bennett, Minneapolis, Minnesota

From: Cathleen Cherry (catecherry cableone.net)
Subject: Poem about AWAD on Poetry Daily

I have been receiving your AWAD pretty much since I've had email. I also read PoetryDaily's poem-a-day, and this one might just be about you and your work. I thought you'd appreciate it. :)
Words with no repeating letters (Jan 2011).

Cathleen Cherry, Prescott, Arizona

Words are the small change of thought. -Jules Renard, writer (1864-1910)

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